I’ve posted about Scrappy several times already. He’s also often called Scrap, Scrapper, Scrapper-Doodle. He’s been my permanent foster for almost a year now. It’s time to tell his story.
He wasn’t supposed to stay with me permanently. I bring dogs over from the Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue and give them some time to heal emotionally and get a little training along the way so they can be adopted. I really don’t do much except give them a safe place with some rules and structure. This allows them to get back on track and become the dogs they were meant to be. Or close enough. Scrappy’s continued presence here means that I have not been completely successful in helping him. Allow me to explain.
Scrappy came to Homeward Bound after his owners took him to a shelter to have him euthanized. He was just 2 or 3 years old but they claimed he had a shoulder condition for which their vet could only suggest supplements. Alarm bells went off with the shelter staff so their vet gave Scrappy an examination. They found a minor injury in his leg that had healed. There was no medical reason to euthanize him. He ended up at Homeward Bound because the shelter staff thought he might be a Golden Retriever/Lab mix. I think Beagle/Lab is more likely but it doesn’t matter. I am just grateful he made it here.
I don’t remember much about Scrappy when he first arrived. I know he was popular with many of the dog walkers. He didn’t seem to have any issues. He was evaluated and eventually adopted by a family that loved him. I probably didn’t think much about him after that but Scrappy and I were destined to become better acquainted.
Like most rescue organizations, we try very hard to match the right dog to the right family. We don’t always succeed, of course. Scrapy left as a happy and seemingly well-balanced dog but he came back with a dark side that showed itself at inopportune moments. He would lunge at strangers, especially children. He was no longer friendly with other dogs. He was suspicious of anything new in his environment, and he even decided that one of the gardeners was his mortal enemy
What cruel torments did Scrappy’s family inflict on him that would cause such a change? Almost certainly … nothing. They loved Scrappy dearly, and sincerely tried to work things out so he could remain a part of their family. His behavior around the family was fine. But when extended family and friends came over he transformed into something unrecognizable, barking and growling at the “dangerous” new people in their midst. They sought professional help but were unable to alter Scrap’s behavior. Reluctantly, they brought him back to HB.
So what happened? It’s hard to say. But I suspect that Scrappy is the kind of dog that needs to feel that his humans are in charge, otherwise he feels obligated to be the leader and protect them from the many dangers lurking all around. Since dogs are typically not adept at playing this role they become overly stressed, and, well, mentally ill in a way. When Scrappy came back to us he was tense. His eyes were different, a bit harder than they were before. It didn’t help that he stared … hard and long. That’s a little unusual for a dog as it’s very rude behavior in canine culture. A few of the dog walkers were nervous around him and made reference to his “demon eyes”. Scrappy wasn’t going anywhere without an intervention so he came to stay in the kennels at my house.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Scrappy’s story … coming soon.